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Archive for the category “USA”

Renewable Intermittency – Continental Scale is the Solution

[source]

Here an interview with Dr Gregor Czisch, a consultant specializing in energy supply at the firm Transnational Renewables Consulting. Dr. Czisch likes to think big. His area of expertise and passion is to design a big picture for renewable energy. On a continental scale no less. The largest hindrance of large scale implementation of renewable energy is its intermittent character: no solar energy at night or during periods of cloudy skies and rain or several days of no wind worth mentioning. The problem is not so much producing large amounts of kWh’s in a renewable fashion, the problem is to make supply meet demand. Although there is still much room for further improvement of wind and solar energy production, in essence we have reached a mature state of technology already. The bottleneck currently is storage.

To make a long story short: according to Dr. Czisch a major contribution to breaking down hurdles standing in the way of a 100% renewable energy future would be to strive for a “super grid” on o continental scale. Both in Europe and America. The greatest obstacle in realizing that aim is of a political nature, not technical.

Dr. Czisch has made mathematical models for both Europe and the United States that show that the larger the integrated area of renewable energy generation is, the lesser intermittency will be a problem.

[germaninnovation.org] – Talking about the Super Grid
[deepresource] – The Enormous Energy Potential of the North Sea
[isesco.org.ma] – Supergrids for Balancing Variable Renewables
[solarwerkstatt.org] – Vollversorgung aus erneuerbaren Energien
[de.wikipedia.org] – Gregor Czisch

Dr. Czisch’s vision for a renewable energy future for Europe.

[amazon.com] – Scenarios for a Future Electricity Supply: CostOptimised Variations on Supplying Europe and its Neighbours with Electricity from Renewable Energies

Intel in Autonomous Cars

The traditional car companies should take care that newcomers won’t make if off with the loot. After Tesla, Google and Apple we now have Intel trying its luck with autonomous vehicles:

Mobileye, an Intel Company, will start building a fleet of fully autonomous (level 4 SAE) vehicles for testing in the United States, Israel and Europe. The first vehicles will be deployed later this year, and the fleet will eventually scale to more than 100 automobiles.

About the SAE autonomous driving level system:

  • Level 0: No Automation. That’s you dear reader and your shabby 1985 Ford Mustang GT.
  • Level 1: Driver Assistance. Environment info resulting in some level of steering and/or accelerating/decelerating; the driver is still in charge.
  • Level 2: Partial Automation. The system performs the basic tasks, but the driver is supposed to supervise it all.
  • Level 3: Conditional Automation. System in control. Driver can be requested to intervene.
  • Level 4: High Automation. Sometimes the driver can be requested to intervene, but no hazards if the driver doesn’t.
  • Level 5: Full Automation. The driver just has to step in and can take a nap and still expect to be delivered at the final destination.

[intel.com] – Intel … to Build Fleet of 100 L4 Autonomous Test Cars
[autobahn.eu] – De 5 ‘levels’ van autonoom rijden
[mercedes-benz.com] – Autonomous long distance drive
[sae.org] – Automated driving

The autonomous driving car level system (click to enlarge)

Bill Joy Unveils a Battery to Challenge Lithium-Ion

Bill Joy, one of the main driving forces behind BSD Unix, Sun Microsystems and the vi editor has unveiled yesterday a…

solid-state alkaline battery at the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Energy Innovation Summit in Basalt, Colorado, that he says is safer and cheaper than the industry leader, lithium-ion. The appeal of alkaline: it could cost a tiny fraction of existing battery technologies and could be safer in delicate settings, such as aboard airplanes. “What people didn’t really realize is that alkaline batteries could be made rechargable,” Joy said in a phone interview Thursday.

But it is very early day…

The Ionic Materials investor envisions three ultimate applications for the polymer technology: consumer electronics, automotive and the power grid. But Joy acknowledged that the technology isn’t quite ready for prime-time. It has yet to be commercialized, and factories are needed to manufacture it. It could be ready for wider use within five years, he said.

The real innovator is a startup company Ionic Materials, in Woburn, Mass. The claimed breakthrough is that the company succeeded in making alkaline batteries rechargeable. According to spokesman Mike Zimmerman, the alkaline batteries would be heavier than the lithium ones, but that would be more than compensated with lower cost and higher energy density. Additionally there are environmental advantages in replacing cobalt with relatively abundant manganese and zinc. Zinc could eventually even be replaced by aluminium, reducing the battery weight below the lithium-based ones.

[bloomberg.com] – Tech Guru Bill Joy Unveils a Battery to Challenge Lithium-Ion
[nytimes.com] – A Better, Safer Battery Could Be Coming to a Laptop Near You
[wikipedia.org] – Alkaline battery
[wikipedia.org] – Lithium-ion battery
[livemint.com] – Tech guru Bill Joy unveils battery to challenge lithium-ion
[wikipedia.org] – Bill Joy
[wired.com] – Bill Joy, Why the future doesn’t need us
[wikipedia.org] – Why The Future Doesn’t Need Us

Tesla 3 Introduced

Two models:

– Standard: $35k/27k, 220 miles (354 km)
– Longe range: $44/36k, 310 miles (500 km)

Prices: standard/after US Tax Credit

Tesla said they had taken 325,000 Model 3 reservations.

[wikipedia.org] – Tesla Model 3

Read more…

2 GW Windfarm to be Built in Oklohoma (in a Red State!)

[source] 350-mile dedicated power line will connect a substation at the wind farm with a substation near Tulsa to deliver the wind energy to customers.

Will be the largest in the US and 2nd largest in the world. Invenergy will cooperate with General Electric on The Wind Catcher project and install 800 GE 2.5 MW turbines. Operational mid-2020. Cost: $4.5 billion, including 350 miles of dedicated, extra-high-voltage power lines.

[invenergyllc.com] – Invenergy and GE Renewable Energy Announce America’s Largest Wind Farm

“The answer my friend is blowin in the wind”

Is Bigger Best in Renewable Energy?

Discussion about renewable energy and the economy of scale.

[ilsr.org] – Institute for local self-reliance report

[slideshare.net] – Slides webinar presentation

Stanford on the State of Solar Technology

Upbeat assessment about the state of photo-voltaic technology from Stanford University in California. Solar efficiencies of 33% at a price of $100/m2 becoming the norm soon.

Solar is doing fine in the “sunshine state” California: from 0 to 5 GW in 15 years, with exponential growth and no end in sight.

[qz.com] – California is getting so much power from solar that wholesale electricity prices are turning negative

Is a 100% Renewable Energy Base Possible?

USA energy transition targets 2050 according to Mark Jacobson et al.

Mark Jacobson of Stanford University (along with co-authors) has come up with a blue print for a 100% renewable energy future for the United States by 2050 (first link), based on electricity and hydrogen.

In response, lead author Christopher Clack has uttered criticism regarding this blue print (2nd link). He has aimed for 80% decarbonization in his past work.

Next Richard Heinberg chimes in and gives his views on the matter (3rd link).

Finally Cleantechnica, a club inclined to look at energy matters from the bright side of life, predictably chooses sides with Mark Jacobson (4th link).

[thesolutionsproject.org] – A world powered by the wind, water, and sun is not only possible – it’s already happening
[pnas.org] – Evaluation of a proposal for reliable low-cost grid power with 100% wind, water, and solar
[richardheinberg.com] – Controversy Explodes over Renewable Energy
[cleantechnica.com] – 100% Clean, Renewable Energy Is Possible — Setting The Record Straight

[washingtonpost.com] – A bitter scientific debate just erupted over the future of America’s power grid

Dandelion – Google Spin-off Moving into Geothermal Energy

A Google offshoot called Dandelion will begin to promote geothermal energy for residential heating and cooling in the NE-United States. Motivation: 39% of CO2 emissions come from buildings, so here is a vast potential to bring these emissions down. “Geothermal” in this context means draining heat from low depths using u-shaped plastic pipes, buried in a back yard and use it as an input for a heat pumps. For this purpose a drilling method was developed to minimize the cost of installing the pipes.

Dandelion is seeking to cooperate with specialized installation companies and offer a financial package to homeowners, with monthly expenses lower than the common fossil fuel bill, without a down-payment. Typical cost picture: investment sum $20-25k or $160-180/month over 20 years, substituting $35k of 20 year oil cost and 110 ton CO2. For propane consumers, saving would amount to $63k/130 ton CO2 over 20 years.

[blog.x.company] – Introducing Dandelion
[treehugger.com] – Dandelion: an audacious and radical geothermal energy startup?
[hpacmag.com] – Google, Dandelion Geothermal, and the Thermal Energy IoT
[cnbc.com] – Alphabet’s moonshot factory just launched a geothermal energy start-up
[dandelion.co] – Dandelion official site

Read more…

Algae-for-Fuel Breakthrough?

Previous attempts to boost the oil concentration in algae — an important step in biofuel production — failed because the cells stopped growing when they were overloaded with lipid. The new genetic process maintains growth until 40 per cent of the biomass consists of lipid, an industrially useful level.

[the-american-interest.com] – Finally, a Biofuel to Get Excited About

Americans Are Back in Love With SUVs and Pickups

[source] Dieselgate – cartoon with US pickup-truck driver telling a German motorist: “You should be ashamed of yourselves”

The manipulated CO2-emissions by Volkswagen-engineers was a fraud and should be prosecuted. It is just… well… are Americans really the ones to cast the first stone? Annual carbon dioxide emissions [tonnes] per capita:

USA 18
Saudi-Arabia 17
Russia 12
Japan 9
Germany 9
UK 8
Italy 7
China 6
France 6
Nigeria 0

[wikipedia.org] – List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita

Bloomberg reports that now the US economy is picking up steam again, the Americans are returning to their SUVs, pickup-trucks and vans. The US abandoning the Paris accords also sends the wrong signal. The US remains the only great power not to have an official renewable energy policy/vision, although a lot of state level initiatives do occur. If for instance Texas were a country, it would be the fourth wind power in the world. Many leftists like to blame president Trump for this, ignoring that a Clinton administration and deep state darling would not have made a jota difference, but instead would have ensured the US would be at war with Russia by now. In this respect the Trump administration is the lesser evil.

Volkswagen was forced to settle with US justice at the astronomical amount of $14.7 billion for a fleet of 500,000 cars involved. This amounts to the insane sum of $30,000 per car. This has nothing to do with justice but everything with US industrial cannibalism. A criminal act exercised by a predator country that itself couldn’t care less about the environment.

Despite the settlement, the US justice department has announced that it has issued arrest warrants against VW managers. They don’t know when to stop, now do they?

[bloomberg.com] – Americans Are Back in Love With SUVs and Pickups

[dw.com] – eport: US issues arrest warrants for former VW executives
[nytimes.com] – Interpol Seeks Five Ex-VW Managers Over Emissions Fraud
[sueddeutsche.de] – Warum die USA fünf VW-Manager fassen wollen
[spiegel.de] – USA schreiben VW-Manager weltweit zur Fahndung aus
[zeit.de] – USA fahnden weltweit nach VW-Mitarbeitern

IFBattery – Instantaneous Recharging Batteries

An innovation from Perdue University, Laffayette, USA, could dramatically reduce the time needed to recharge a battery. E-vehicles could enter a charging station en route and recharge in a matter of minutes, like in the petrol car days and as such could significantly lower the acceptation threshold for e-vehicles. Gone would be the necessity of a nation-wide power plug infrastructure in front of every home to recharge the car at night.

Purdue scientist John Cushman presented his findings at the recent International Society for Porous Media 9th International Conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Recharging consists of refilling a car with fluid electrolytes, not with electricity kWh’s:

The spent battery fluids or electrolyte could be collected and taken to a solar farm, wind turbine installation or hydroelectric plant for re-charging… Instead of refining petroleum, the refiners would reprocess spent electrolytes and instead of dispensing gas, the fueling stations would dispense a water and ethanol or methanol solution as fluid electrolytes to power vehicles… Other flow batteries exist, but [this is] the first to remove membranes which reduces costs and extends battery life… Membrane fouling can limit the number of recharge cycles and is a known contributor to many battery fires.

[purdue.edu] – ‘Instantly rechargeable’ battery could change the future of electric and hybrid automobiles

US Withdraws from Paris Agreement on Climate Change

US president Trump has announced yesterday that he will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate agreement. European leaders immediately condemned the move and excluded the possibility of renegotiation.

[wikipedia.org] – Paris Agreement
[spiegel.de] – Paris kann nicht neu verhandelt werden

Share CO2 emissions:

Country Global % CO2 Population in million
China 29.5 1350
USA 14.3 330
EU 9.6 500
India 6.8 1500
Russia 4.9 150

[source]

Interesting to note how comparatively little energy the EU needs to generate a GDP comparable to that of the US and China and generate the following external exports (not counting inner trade):

Entity Export in trillion $
EU 2.7
China 2.0
USA 1.5

[source]

Entity GDP (nominal) trillion $ (UN)
USA 18.0
EU 16.8
China 11.2

[source]

Entity GDP (PPP) in trillion $ (CIA)
China 21.3
EU 19.2
USA 18.6

[source]

The decision by Trump to cling on to fossil technologies, gives Europe the excellent opportunity to get a decisive head start over the US in all matters of energy production of the 21st century, with large geopolitical repercussions.

[source] CO2 emissions for three years flat now.

The Seven Brothers – Europe Taking Lead in US Offshore

Click for very large photo

The outgoing oil age was dominated by the so-called Seven Sisters, the giant Anglo [*] oil companies Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP), Gulf Oil (later part of Chevron), Royal Dutch Shell, Standard Oil Company of California (SoCal, now Chevron), Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (Esso, later Exxon), Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony, later Mobil, now part of ExxonMobil), Texaco (later merged into Chevron).

[*] – if we categorize the Dutch as “Anglo-Germans”.

[wikipedia.org] – Seven Sisters (oil companies)

It looks like wind is going to play a major role in the energy generation of the 21st century, taking over from 20th century oil and that this time the rising industry will be dominated by European firms:

[deepresource] – Ten Largest Wind Turbines To Date
[deepresource] – The Giants of a New Energy Age

  • The 19th century was dominated by British coal and Britain was the dominant power.
  • The 20th century was dominated by American oil and America was the dominant power.
  • The 21st century… ah well, you get the message.

[nexusmedianews.com] – U.S. Offshore Wind Poised to Boom — for Europeans
[pri.org] – The US gets its first offshore wind farm, with a lot of help from Europe

Assessment US Offshore Wind Potential

[Source]

In September 2016, the US government presented a report about the potential of US offshore wind energy, using wind data at 100 m altitude. Assumed confinement: within 200 nautical miles from shore. Total theoretical potential: 10,800 GW or 44,000 TWh per year. But this potential is not going to be realized. To come to a more realistic assessment, all ocean water depths over 1000 m were ignored as well as depths over 60 m in the Great Lakes (because of ice). Next areas with lower average wind speed were eliminated. Applying these restrictions the study arrived at a offshore wind energy potential of more than 2,000 GW or 7,200 TWh per year. Which is still double the current US electricity consumption.

The colored areas are potential offshore wind turbine installation areas.

It needs to be remarked that apparently most of the offshore wind energy potential will have to be realized with floating wind turbines, a technology not much applied yet. Compare these 2,000 GW with the 1,600 GW potential for the North Sea alone, that can be completely realized with monopile structures.

[energy.gov] – Computing America’s Offshore Wind Energy Potential
[energy.gov] – National Offshore Wind Strategy: Facilitating the Development of the Offshore Wind Industry in the United States

U.S. Builds First Offshore Wind Farm

11 Dec. 2016 – In the U.S. today, wind power accounts for about five percent of all electricity generation, but a new project aims to change that. A $300 million installation off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island, takes the renewable energy technology out to sea. Gov. Gina Raimondo anticipates the project is the beginning of a new industry, but some locals are skeptical. Mike Taibbi reports.

Five French made Alstom Haliade 150 6 MW turbines, 30 MW, $300 million. Water depth 23 m. The turbines began producing power in May 2017.

[wikipedia.org] – Block Island Wind Farm
[4coffshore.com] – Block Island Wind Farm
[Google Maps] – Block Island

Vertical Farming Taking Off

Wikipedia:

Vertical farming is the practice of producing food in vertically stacked layers, such as in a skyscraper, used warehouse, or shipping container. The modern ideas of vertical farming use indoor farming techniques and controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) technology, where all environmental factors can be controlled. These facilities utilize artificial control of light, environmental control (humidity, temperature, gases…) and fertigation. Some vertical farms use techniques similar to greenhouses, where natural sunlight can be augmented with artificial lighting and metal reflectors

The concepts was pioneered first in 2014, with Vertical Fresh Farms operating in Buffalo, NY/USA, specializing in a wide variety of salad greens, herbs, and sprouts.

Vertical Fresh Farms has been farming commercially on a small scale in Buffalo, New York for a few years, but a larger scale commercial facility is currently under construction in the Netherlands. Fruit and vegetables supplier Staay Food Group is erecting a 900 square meter vertical farm, which will have a total cultivation area of 30,000 square meters.

[cleantechnica.com] – Vertical Farming Is Taking Off: Europe’s First Commercial Vertical Farm Under Construction In The Netherlands
[wikipedia.org] – Vertical farming
[philips.nl] – Grootste commerciële stadskwekerij van Europa in Dronten

The World Doesn’t Have a Long-Term Energy Problem

[source]

Terra-Watts solar is coming, replacing Giga-Watts. This is the conclusion prominent scientists from the German Fraunhofer Institute (ISE) and US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) arrive at. They predict that by 2030, the global cumulative installed solar capacity will be 10-30 fold of what it is today. Solar panel producer “First Solar” predicts that as early as 2020, the price of solar panels will decrease to as little as 25 cents/Watt. That would mean that a standard 100 cm x 164 cm, 300 Watt panel costing € 300,- will cost € 75 in 2020. Solar panels as block-board.

Currently Abu Dhabi is able to produce solar electricity for a staggering low 2.4 cent/kWh.

There is no long-term global energy problem.

[spiegel.de] – Forscher prognostizieren gigantischen Solarboom
[science.sciencemag.org] – Terawatt-scale photovoltaics: Trajectories and challenges

Storage Breakthrough – $100/kWh has been achieved

Cheap storage to counter the intermittent supply of renewable electricity is the missing link en route towards the desired renewable energy base of the future, but that problem could now have been solved. Technology has developed so rapidly in recent years that cost of electricity storage has been brought down from $1000 to $100 per kWh.

City College NY has improved an old concept of mangandioxide-zinc batteries. Result: 6000 charge-cycles for less than $100/kwh.
Price storage of a single kWh: 1.67 dollar cent or say 8 cent per day per 5 kWh/day household. Peanuts.
Can also be used for cars: 40 kWh battery for $4000. Bye-bye gasoline.

Mangan-Oxid is abundant and non-toxic.
This NYC startup is going to produce the batteries first:

[urbanelectricpower.com]

[sciencedaily.com] – Sustainable, high energy density battery created
[nature.com] – Regenerable Cu-intercalated MnO2 layered cathode for highly cyclable energy dense batteries
[pnnl.gov] – Unexpected discovery leads to a better battery
[newatlas.com] – Power dense zinc-manganese power unit as cheap as a car battery
[wikipedia.org] – Manganese
[wikipedia.org] – Zinc
[trouw.nl] – Batterijdoorbraak: magische grens van 100 dollar is geslecht

Charles Hall on EROI

Talk Princeton 2016.

Hall comes from ecology and that’s where he minted the concept of energy return on invest. It was first applied to fish and fish migration patterns. Hall discovered that my moving around at the energy cost of 1 calorie, the fish gained 5 calories (salmon eating plankton). Life in general has to engage in energy investments.

Next Hall applied EROI on humans. Hunter/gatherers need to walk/run to find food, nuts and animals. Fire enhanced EROI since it made cooking of food possible, which was more abundant and easier to acquire than animals.

Next step agriculture allowed for food storage, yielding in EROI in the range of 10-50, enabling leisure, resulting in socializing, like story telling.

Next step fossil fuel exploitation. Secret: you want more wealth? Use more energy. During Hall’s lifetime, energy use per capita, as well as wealth increased by a factor of 7.

Next graph that shows the % of GDP spent on energy, with a sharp decline after 1850 (application of coal). In the 1990s that % went up again. Hall states that EROI of most of our fuels is declining as they are depleting.

Hall acknowledges the importance of technology and that technology is in competition with depletion and refers to his book about (low) EROI of solar with Pietro. Pietro today is even more pessimistic about EROI of PV-solar than before.

Refers to the reality of peak (conventional) oil. Decline EROI of Norwegian North Sea oil from 1:40 to 1:20. Patterns applies to everywhere else. Net energy cliff. Offshore wind has EROI of 52. Shows picture with peak fossil (all included) at 2045. Familiar pyramid of cultural achievements as related to EROI. For arts you are supposed to need 14:1 (a ridiculous notion, the highest art was created before the fossil fuel age).

Hall has extremely little hope for renewable energy and suggests that by 3000, humans will be hunters-gatherers again. Hall nevertheless says it is wise that we move the renewables and downplays importance climate change a little and that the EROI discussion-implications are more important for society.

[cassandralegacy] – Charlie Hall speaks about EROI (and many other things)

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